Lauren Cuthbertson became a principal ballerina for the Royal Ballet when she was just 24 years old. Today, as a patron to the National Youth Ballet and one of the U.K.’s Who’s Who for 2014, she’s shared her Top 10 Tips on how to succeed as a ballerina with BBC News.
10. Wear Your Big Girl Pants and Never Be Afraid to Fail
There are so many things I would like to say to a younger me. I’d like to say that you need to be really realistic. You need to really suck it up, put on your “big girl pants,” be brave, learn to listen to criticism, and listen to the truth.
When I was younger, there were so many things that I didn’t achieve that I wanted to. There were competitions I didn’t get into, grades I didn’t make—and I remember those moments like they were yesterday.
But learning from those experiences, that’s when I really turned up the volume. I used that sadness—almost anger—and disappointment with myself to strive towards the next level. So don’t be scared of failure. If you are meant to succeed you’ll rise above that. Just keep going and it will make you stronger.
To see the reminding tips, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25240771.
Ballet’s Greatest Hits, a filmed Youth America Grand Prix gala evening showcasing classical ballet variations from Don Quixote, Flames of Paris, Giselle, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake, is now available on iTunes in over 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa.
Hosted by American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, Ballet’s Greatest Hits presents an all-star cast from the world’s leading dance companies, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, and San Francisco Ballet.
The film offers exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, rare archival materials, and exclusive interviews with choreographers, film producers, critics, and luminaries of the dance world, such as Alexei Ratmansky, Benjamin Millepied, Edward Villella, and many others.
The film is available at iTunes for purchase ($14.99 to $19.99) or rental ($3.99 to $4.99), and is also distributed through Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube. Visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ballets-greatest-hits/id733326116 for more information.
A New York City neighborhood dance studio is bringing young football players into their studio for a six-week ballet workshop that’s designed for athletes.
FOOTBALLet at Cora Dance, located on Richards Street in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, focuses on footwork, balance, and strength-building exercises by using movements from ballet and the field.
A parent approached dance instructor Courtney Cooke with an idea for the workshop. “I immediately saw things that were practiced in football drills . . . that could be translated to ballet,” said Cooke, 28, who first taught the class last year.
Cooke, who will lead the workshop for 9- to 13-year-olds beginning December 7, starts each class with ballet fundamentals and then teaches exercises like petit allegro jumps and graceful adagio movements, she said.
But since her young students are more interested in becoming better football players, not ballerinas, she created challenges that combine ballet skills with sports drills. In one exercise, each student, football in hand, must chasse across the room, end with a grand jeté over a three-foot barrier, then quickly turn and throw the football to the next student.
To see the original story, visit http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131204/red-hook/football-inspired-ballet-classes-combine-dance-with-drills-red-hook.
San Francisco Ballet has launched a Nutcracker interactive storybook application designed for children ages 6 to 10 and their families.
The animated iPad app allows users to not only experience SF Ballet’s production of Nutcracker through original illustrations and storytelling, but to explore and engage with the world of classical dance and music through groundbreaking new interactive technology.
Key features of the app, now available on the App Store for $4.99, include original artwork by Kate Garchinsky; audio clips of Tchaikovsky’s renowned Nutcracker score that accompany each scene; playful animations; and pop-up information pages featuring fun facts about ballet, Nutcracker, and SF Ballet’s production.
In addition, the app offers videos and photos that take young readers behind the scenes. Users have the option of reading the story themselves or listening to a narration while they tilt and tap their iPad to uncover surprises along the way. Throughout this playful and educational app, children can hone their reading skills while learning about ballet, dance, music, and more.
To see the Nutcracker Interactive Storybook app trailer and for additional information, visit www.sfballet.org/nutcrackerstorybook.
Producer/directors Joani Livingston and Renée McKay recently spent several days with the San Diego Ballet shooting footage for their latest undertaking, Ineffable, a documentary about the struggle to keep the arts alive in this country.
Why did they choose, in a film about the arts, to focus on ballet?
“Because it’s a performance art, where music, dance, theater, and visual art intersect,” Livingston explained to the La Jolla Light. “And performance art is ephemeral. We watch for an hour or so, then poof! It’s gone. Ballet personifies beauty, wonder, strength, and a whole gamut of emotions—basically, who we are as human beings. It’s transcendent; watching a ballerina leap into a grand jeté takes your breath away. And the only way art like this, demanding constant practice and great dedication, will not be lost is by passing it on from generation to generation.”
Ineffable examines valiant efforts to train future generations of ballet students, practitioners, and audiences in a small town (West Palm Beach, Florida), a big city (New York) and mid-sized San Diego.
“We try to tell stories that promote positive change,” McKay said. “As independent producers of content for PBS-TV, we reach millions of eyes and ears, and we don’t take our responsibility lightly.”
With Ineffable, they hope to show that, through dedication, even in a world obsessed with bottom lines, beauty can triumph. And if one day it does not, something profoundly human will be lost.
To see the original story, visit http://www.lajollalight.com/2013/11/27/lights-camera-grand-jete-team-films-a-ballet-documentary-in-san-diego/.
TuTuMUCH, a documentary film that follows nine young ballet dancers as they compete for highly coveted spots at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, is now available to download on iTunes or purchase on DVD.
The film by Elise Swerhone is a behind-the-scenes story of what it takes to become a dancer. These girls have been given the chance of a lifetime, a four-week summer “audition” to get into a professional ballet school. Leaving behind their families and friends, often for the first time, each girl confronts the painstaking and sometimes rewarding realities of living her dream.
As the girls learn, talent and passion alone are not enough. The classes are grueling and the girls’ physical and emotional limits are stretched and tested daily. “You’ve even got to love the pain,” says 12-year-old Sidnie, one of the prospective ballerinas. The success of a dancer often comes down to the shape of a foot or the length of the neck. In the last few days of the program the girls find out which of them will take the next step toward the dream of becoming a professional ballerina, and which ones won’t.
A Russian ballet dancer has been jailed for six years after being convicted over an acid attack on the Bolshoi Theatre’s artistic director, reported Sky News.
Sergei Filin suffered severe burns to his eyes and face last January in Moscow when a man threw sulfuric acid at him as he returned home late at night. He has undergone dozens of operations after he was nearly blinded in the attack. And in emotional testimony earlier in the month-long trial, he told the court he is still unable to see his children.
Judge Yelena Maximova said soloist dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, and two other men had intentionally caused grievous bodily harm to Filin and all three defendants were jailed. Yuri Zarutsky, who admitted to throwing acid in Filin’s face, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Andrei Lipatov, who drove Zarutsky to the scene, got four years behind bars.
The attack revealed bitter rivalries behind the scenes of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Dmitrichenko admitted he wanted Filin roughed up and had given Zarutsky the go-ahead to hit him. But Dmitrichenko said he had not wanted acid to be used, and pleaded not guilty. Zarutsky said it was his own idea and he had not told Dmitrichenko of his plan. However, Dmitrichenko had told Zarutsky on the night of the attack that Filin was on his way home from the theater, according to the judge.
To read the full story, visit http://news.sky.com/story/1176928/bolshoi-ballet-acid-attack-dancer-jailed.
Vitamin D deficiency caused by their intensive indoor training regime is putting elite ballet dancers at increased risk of injury, a U.K. study has found.
The Guardian reported that researchers at the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital (RNOH), University of Wolverhampton, and the Jerwood Centre at Birmingham Royal Ballet, have urged trainers and medical professionals to consider providing dancers with vitamin D supplements during the winter after results showed it had a significant influence on improving muscle function and reducing injury occurrence.
Dr. Roger Wolman, consultant in rheumatology and sport and exercise medicine at the RNOH, said: “We know vitamin D [deficiency] can affect the bones. What’s become clear . . . is vitamin D is also important for muscles. It might not have an intense effect on your average office worker but on someone doing very intensive training, putting a lot of stress on their bones and muscles, it can be significant.”
The research, published on Friday in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, involved 24 dancers at the Birmingham Royal Ballet who dance between six and eight hours a day and a total of 38 hours a week, meaning they get little exposure to sunlight, the main natural source of vitamin D.
Before any were given supplements, all were found to be vitamin D deficient or insufficient (not as severe but still low) during winter and only 15 percent achieved normal levels during the summer. Subsequently, 17 of the dancers were given oral vitamin D3 and seven were not. Significant increases in muscle strength and vertical jump performance were found among the group taking vitamin D. They also suffered fewer injuries, with 12 reporting no injuries and five a single injury, compared to those not given the supplements, only one of whom suffered no injuries with five reporting one injury and one dancer reporting two.
To read the full story, visit http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/nov/29/vitamin-d-ballet-dancers-injury.
The professional dancers in the St. Paul City Ballet’s holiday production Clara’s Dream often pull double or triple duty, dancing multiple roles in the one-hour performance. The dancers pull extra duty offstage as well, said the Pioneer Press, covering administrative roles as part of the company’s rare artist-led business model.
When Minnesota’s St. Paul City Ballet announced the 2013–14 performance season was in jeopardy, dancer Shannon Corbett pitched to the board the dancers’ plan to step into the administrative roles, overseeing the direction of the ballet in addition to the work they do in the studio, including a budget that would make it possible.
“Being artist-led makes it really easy for us to kind of have control, and have a little more artistic freedom, in that sense,” said Jarod Boltjes, who joined the St. Paul City Ballet this season and serves as the production coordinator, booking performance spaces for the company.
Dancer Zoe Henrot was nominated by the company to be the interim artistic director, overseeing much of the choreography for the season. “It’s kind of a blessing. Because we are artist-led, we can sit down and be like ‘What part has someone always been dying to do, but never has had the chance?’ ” Henrot said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility in what we want to put on stage.”
The company puts on a free performance once a month in downtown St. Paul. Dancers walked in the 2013 Twin Cities Pride parade, and the company maintains an active social media presence. This community outreach is crucial, Henrot said, because of the artist-led business model’s reliance on community support. “We’re just really trying to get out there and talk to people about what we’re doing, because we think it’s really cool,” she said.
To read the full story, visit http://www.twincities.com/stage/ci_24634446/dancers-take-over-st-paul-city-ballet-keep.
American Ballet Competition’s guest master teacher for 2014 will be Francesca Zumbo, professor of dance for the Paris Opera Ballet School and a former Paris Opera première danseuse.
Classes with Zumbo will be held during the competition, set for June 11 to 14 at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts.
Born in Paris, Zumbo graduated from the National Conservatory of Paris with highest honors before joining the Paris Opera Ballet. She’s performed with companies including the Bolshoi, Kirov, London Festival, Winnipeg, and Tokyo Ballets, and since 1995 has been delegated by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to teach for the Institute Central of Dance in Peking and the Shanghai Ballet in China.
For more information, visit www.americanballetcompetition.com.
David Turnell is going to play the part of the Snow King at the Next Generation Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, December 7 and 8, at the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida. The major role is a big milestone for 19-year-old Turnell, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, when he was young.
He said he had trouble speaking until he was about 6 years old. As for ballet, Turnell didn’t even begin learning about dance until he was 15. One of his instructors, Next Generation Ballet artistic director Peter Stark, said that’s a much later start than many other young dancers.
“It speaks, really, I would say, to his intellect, and his physical ability,” Stark told ABC Action News. “He’s a natural athlete.”
As for the Nutcracker, Turnell, who hopes to eventually land a full-time position with a company, said: “It will be a lot of fun,” said Turnell.
To see a video report on Turnell, visit http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/local_news/ballet-student-diagnosed-with-aspergers-syndrome-dances-way-to-nutcracker-role#ixzz2lrSxErgc.
For more information about performance times and tickets, visit www.strazcenter.org/Events/1314_Dance/The_Nutcracker#&panel1-2.
In the moments between classes, half a dozen young ladies gathered around a knee-high fence at the edge of their dance floor, watching and petting six puppies as Michelle Holmes-Bello responded to their inquiries and observations.
To Holmes-Bello, co-founder and artistic director at USA Ballet, the moment was proof that starting an animal rescue group, My Loveable Angels, earlier this year in the USA Ballet’s Bloomington, Illinois, facilities was the right thing to do. The animals have an opportunity for socialization while young dancers learn about animals’ needs.
She told The Pantagraph that the organization was created in memory of her recently deceased sister, Leslie Holmes, and has saved more than 80 creatures, mostly dogs on “death row,” by placing them with loving foster families until they find them homes.
“The [dancers] look so forward to meeting a new one and hearing its story,” she said, explaining the rescued animals are contained, and students must have their parents’ permission before interacting with them. “Just reaching them when they’re younger to help educate; that’s going to affect them as adults to help the cycle of what we’re trying to prevent.”
While last week’s canine visitors were a 3-month-old litter of dogs from Kentucky, Holmes-Bello said My Loveable Angels draws animals, mostly dogs, of all ages and in all health conditions from all over the Midwest.
Fabrice Herrault’s documentary about Rudolf Nureyev, La Passion Noureev, will have its American premiere in Los Angeles on December 5, 2013. The filmmaker is a respected New York City dance instructor and the product of the French ballet academy.
The exclusive fundraising event, benefiting Dance Camera West, will take place at the United Talent Agency screening room in Beverly Hills and will feature champagne, caviar, and Herrault’s “tone poem” of a movie, followed by a conversation about the art and impact of the Soviet Union’s first and greatest exiled danseur noble, to be led by Debra Levine.
The film, previously screened in Paris, will also screen next February at Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera festival. Herrault has assembled previously unseen found-footage, including long clips from home movies captured by rogue filmmakers whirring Super-8s from balconies and opera boxes.
For tickets, visit http://dancecamerawest.org/nureyevfundraiser.htm.
To see the original story, visit http://artsmeme.com/2013/11/25/la-passion-noureev-to-premiere-in-los-angeles-for-dance-camera-west/.
A story in The Moscow Times reports that 18-year-old ballerina Precious Adams has been left out of Bolshoi Ballet Academy performances because of the color of her skin, she says, and has been told to “try and rub the black off” to make herself look more like what directors want for shows like the school’s 240th-anniversary performance earlier this month.
“Teachers have tried to vouch for me before, but if the almighty voice says it’s not right—it doesn’t look right—then whatever they say goes.”
Adams grew up in Canton, Michigan, began ballet lessons at age five, and at nine joined a nearby studio led by Sergei Rayevsky, a graduate of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg. She studied in Toronto, New York City, and Monaco before being accepted at the Bolshoi Academy in 2011 when she was just 16. But unlike the rest of her class, which includes other international dancers of various complexions and a biracial American woman, Adams said her dark skin has singled her out and prevented her from being cast in roles, particularly in group pieces.
Performance time, in Adams’ words, “directly relates to you getting a job. If I can say I’ve only performed on stage four times out of the past three years, it doesn’t look good. If I’d gone anywhere else, I’d probably have a lot more experience,” she said.
Responding to Adams’ allegations of mistreatment, the Bolshoi Academy said in a statement that they had received no report of discrimination from her and that school officials had not heard complaints from other international students. Adams said that she did not make an official complaint because she was unsure if it would do any good, saying: “I don’t think there would have been much of a response.” She argues, however, that the valuable experience she is gaining serves as an answer to those who question why she came here to train. “I am really just here to get the best training that I can so I can go and be amazing somewhere else, where it is not so racially discriminatory,” she said.
To read the full story, visit http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/us-ballerina-faces-discrimination-at-bolshoi-academy/489887.html#ixzz2lgC0kQgR.
According to The New York Times, The Joyce Theater Foundation will present the New York premiere of Snow White with choreography by Angelin Preljocaj. Performed by Mr. Preljocaj’s French dance company, Ballet Preljocaj, and based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, not the 1937 animated Disney film, the production is scheduled for a six-performance run from April 23 to 27 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Mr. Preljocaj recently choreographed a new work for the New York City Ballet and Ballet Preljocaj completed a run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music during its Next Wave Festival this month.
To see the original story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/arts/dance/grimm-snow-white-coming-to-lincoln-center.html?ref=dance&_r=0.
Starz has cast a foursome of professional dancers in its upcoming dysfunctional ballet drama, which now has the title Flesh and Bone, says Indiewire. In addition, Ethan Stiefel, the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and one of the stars of Center Stage, has been added as a consultant and choreographer.
Former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, current American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky (another Center Stage cast member), Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner, and Emily Tyra (Boardwalk Empire) will all play supporting roles in the series. National auditions are underway for the lead role of “Claire Robbins,” a young ballet dancer with a troubled past who joins a prestigious New York ballet company.
Flesh and Bone, which is in development at the network, comes from Breaking Bad co-executive producer Moira Walley-Beckett, and promises to explore the dark side of the ballet world.
“I want to be able to capture dance on film with complete integrity, authenticity, and freedom,” said Walley-Beckett. “Not only are the dancers we’ve cast thus far brilliant company-level artists, but they’re also thrilling, intuitive actors. I’m inspired and optimistic about discovering the perfect ‘Claire.’ ”
To see the original story, visit http://www.indiewire.com/article/television/starz-casts-dancers-in-ballet-drama-flesh-and-bone.
Many in Milwaukee remember trying to get tickets to sold-out performances of Milwaukee Ballet’s adaptation of Peter Pan when it made its debut in 2010, reported WUWM 89.7.
The Michael Pink–directed show got rave reviews and returned in 2012 due to popular demand. Now a national television audience will get its chance to see the ballet when it airs on PBS next April 18. “It’s an extraordinary production, and we felt that it was the kind of program that a national audience would treasure as much as people have in Milwaukee,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger says.
She says PBS has grown its audience by 7 percent in the last year by offering quality programs like Peter Pan to its audience. Kerger says she’s also seen arts organizations on both the national and local levels struggle financially and with getting exposure, particularly during the last economic downturn.
“Part of the issue is marketing dollars were often early dollars to be cut and if you can’t put your art form in front of the public, how do you encourage people in?” she says. “I challenged our colleagues in public broadcasting to double down, on the local level as well as nationally, to explore ways to give wider exposure to the arts.” The PBS special was produced by Milwaukee Public Television.
To read the full story, visit http://wuwm.com/post/milwaukee-ballets-peter-pan-air-pbs-2014.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is the first professional ballet company in the United States to offer an autism-friendly performance of The Nutcracker, set for December 27 at 2pm at the Benedum Center.
According to CBS News/Pittsburgh, the city of Pittsburgh is a leader in making its performing arts accessible for people with disabilities—whether it’s a physical impairment, visual impairment, hearing impairment, or a developmental disability. An autism-friendly performance of The Lion King in September filled the Benedum Center’s 2,800 seats. (Pittsburgh was only the third city in the country to offer it.)
Alyssa Herzog Melby, education director for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, spearheaded the ballet’s autism-friendly Nutcracker with a focus group that included people with autism who gave them guidance. All choreography will remain the same, but the lights in the mice’s red eyes will be turned off, flares used in a magic trick will be eliminated, the sound will be lowered, and the house lights will be partially up.
The Benedum Center lobby will be outfitted with quiet areas for anyone who needs to calm down and activity zones for anyone who needs a break from the show but still wants to stay connected. Last week, the dancers had a special training on autism and what they can expect from the audience at the show.
All tickets for the performance are reserved for families who have a child or someone in their family on the spectrum or another cognitive disability, and are available at a discounted rate at www.PBT.org.
To see the original story, visit http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/11/19/pittsburgh-ballet-theatre-offering-autism-friendly-nutcracker-performance/.
New York City Ballet principal dancers Jenifer Ringer, Janie Taylor, Sébastien Marcovici, and Jonathan Stafford will mark their retirements from the stage at three special farewell events during this coming season.
The New York City Ballet announced that the events “will celebrate the careers of these four principal dancers who have touched us with their dynamic performances full of dramatic passion and elegant chivalry.”
Ringer, who became an apprentice in 1989 and a principal in 2000, will take her final bow on February 9 at 3pm in performances of Dances at a Gathering and Union Jack. Taylor and Marcovici, who wed in 2012, will appear in Afternoon of a Faun and La Valse during their final NYCB performance on March 1 at 8pm.
Stafford, will take to the NYCB stage on May 25 at 3pm in Emeralds and Diamonds before becoming the company’s newest ballet master.
For ticket information, visit www.nycballet.com.
To kick start its 40th performance season, Shreveport [LA] Metropolitan Ballet is making partners with former dancers, local artists, and some of the city’s newest athletes to remind residents how their support has kept dance alive, reports the Shreveport Times.
The ballet has commissioned a series of portraits from photographer Neil Johnson featuring male Shreveport celebrities in tutus. “How Do You Tutu?” featuring the likes of Moonbot Studios’ Brandon Oldenburg, the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra’s Kermit Poling, and musician Brady Blade dressed in the classic ballet skirt, will be on display in the lobby of Riverview hall during the ballet’s December 6 Ruby Gala.
“I like the irony, and I think that’s one of the themes,” Johnson said. “The guys doing it for the cause are willing to be in front of the camera for the permanence of it. There’s a sense of humor with these elegant portraits.”
In addition, SMB has developed a database of more than 1,500 dancers who have participated in its ballets, artistic director Kendra Meiki said. Sixteen second-generation SMB dancers will perform in this year’s The Nutcracker.
A young dancer from Texas who last year became the first American to join the Bolshoi Ballet after graduating from its training academy here has quit the storied company after alleging that she was denied opportunities to perform and ultimately told she would have to pay a bribe of $10,000 to get a solo role.
The New York Times said the dancer, Joy Womack, moved to Moscow on her own at the age of 15 in 2009 to attend the Bolshoi school, which is formally known as the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.
Womack said she was heartbroken to be leaving the Bolshoi, but has described a deeply troubled organization in which casting decisions were based not only on talent but also on payoffs and personal relationships. The Bolshoi Theater’s general director, Vladimir Urin, said officials were prepared to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation, and he challenged Womack to file a complaint, something she has said she will not do.
Womack has declined to name the Bolshoi official who said a $10,000 payment would get her a soloist role. She said the figure was mentioned after she had repeatedly pressed managers about her desire for prominent roles. Since her graduation, she was offered few chances to perform, she said.
“ ‘Don’t you understand that you are an American?’ ” Womack said she was told at one point. “ ‘You have to be smarter about this. You have to find out who you have to pay.’ ”
Womack said that since she came forward she had been “attacked by fellow dancers who are very scared” and criticized by some Bolshoi officials who said her dancing was not good enough. But she said she had only praise for Bolshoi teachers and artists: “They really are the best in the world.”
In September Womack signed a six-month contract with a salary of 198,000 rubles, just over $6,000, and was told 30 percent would be deducted for income tax, leaving about $700 a month.
To see the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/world/europe/american-dancer-complains-of-bribery-at-bolshoi.html?_r=0.
A story in Forbes makes the case that ballet encapsulates all the values and steps that make for success in any career. Here they are:
1. Listen intently. Ballet dancers hinge every move on the musical score and the choreographer’s instruction. Lending an ear and being truly “present” to what others are saying are vital for learning new skills, absorbing valuable ideas, and making colleagues feel respected.
2. Take many steps. Ballet dancers don’t think in terms of reducing the number of steps in the dances they perform, nor do they believe they can cut back on practice and rehearsal and still excel. There are no shortcuts to achieving excellence: continuous effort while holding the bar high enables workers to create masterful products and services.
3. Collaborate face-to-face. Ballet is all about direct contact between dancers, but that kind of partnership and collaboration is becoming a rarity in many other occupations. Despite all the tech tools available today, nothing beats face-to-face contact and interaction when it comes to brainstorming, resolving problems, and building both team spirit and a sense that ownership of one’s work matters.
4. Smile through it. Dancers perform stunningly difficult maneuvers with total grace and a smile on their faces. There may be a lot to moan about at work, but whining will not improve things. First, focus on reducing your overall stress level and developing a more exuberant, grateful attitude. Then, lend a critical eye to your own performance and do everything you can to improve it. Finally, team up with others who want to iron out the kinks in your organization and brainstorm ways to achieve that goal.
5. Show some leg. Ballet costumes swirl, swish, and cling, highlighting the magnificent muscular bodies of the dancers while also revealing their emotional core. In the workplace, it’s vital to reveal and tap into your humanity. Avoid arrogance and defensiveness, own up to your mistakes, display warmth and empathy for your colleagues, solicit their ideas and be open to learning from them.
6. Lend a hand, take an outstretched one. Ballet dancers lift, entwine, lean on, and support one another. Workers should cheer one another on, provide constructive feedback, collaborate, and mentor one another with the objective of enabling everyone to reach their potential, and ask for help when it’s needed.
7. Stay active, keep moving. The ballet stage is filled with action and dancers never stop practicing. You need to own your body to own your mind. Sit less (prolonged periods of sitting steal our health), keep learning new skills, and take initiative to move yourself and your work forward.
An expanded edition of Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina, (Booth Clibborn Editions, $40), by Jane Pritchard, with dance and costume historian Caroline Hamilton, has been republished in time for holiday gift giving.
Chicago Sun-Times reports that the book is a “beauty”; a grand celebration of the widely photographed dancer (and fashionista) whose costumes, streetwear (she loved red shoes), and friends (don’t miss a couple of wonderful photos of a very handsome young Charlie Chaplin) all served to make Pavlova a most alluring artist.
Between 1914 and 1917, Pavlova, a delicate, dark-eyed, Russian-bred ballerina who initially had been a principal artist with the Imperial Russian Ballet and with Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, toured the world with her own company. The dancer, for whom the “Dying Swan” solo was created, was something of a ballet rock star, bringing her art to the masses, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, and giving about 9,000 performances.
To see the original story, visit http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/weiss/23755657-421/a-beauty-of-a-book-about-ballets-anna-pavlova.html.
Preprofessional ballet contestants looking to compete in next year’s 10th USA International Ballet Competition, set for June 14 to 29 in Jackson, Mississippi, have three more weeks to begin the application process.
In response to the large number of contestant inquires, USA IBC said the Competitor Application-Part 1 submissions deadline has been extended to December 9.
In addition to cash prizes totaling $75,000, medals, and special recognition, competitors will vie for contracts and/or scholarships with organizations including Ballet Austin, Boston Ballet School, Columbia City Ballet, Joffrey Academy of Dance, Nashville Ballet, The School of The Hamburg Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theater.
The 2014 international jury, led by Edward Villella, USA, will include Julio Bocca, Argentina; John Meehan, Australia; Feng Ying, China; Nina Ananiashvili, Georgia; Gigi Hyatt, Germany; Hideo Fukagawa, Japan; Ashley Wheater, Scotland; Hae Shik Kim, South Korea; Alexei Fadeyechev, Russia; and Trinidad Vives, Spain.
To begin the process, visit http://www.usaibc.com/compete/utm_source
+for+Competitors&utm_medium=email. To view a short video about the IBC, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht8IwFrIEI0.
In celebration of its 60th-year anniversary, the Joffrey Ballet School will invite dancers to try out for its 2014 season in more than 60 cities across the U.S., as well as multiple international locations.
The school has year-round programs in New York City and also produces the world’s largest summer training program with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Georgia, Florence, Italy, and in Russia with the Bolshoi Ballet. A new location in Denver will join the 2014 summer offerings.
Joffrey Ballet School’s audition process continues to be highly competitive. Last year the school received applications from 7,000 students, and expects audition numbers to increase this year to nearly 9,000.
Joffrey Ballet School will award $1 million of scholarship funding this year to approximately 400 summer intensive students. Merit-based scholarships are available and distributed based on a student’s audition—criteria includes technique, artistry, potential, musicality, and tenacity. The school also distributes a limited number of financial aid scholarships. Those seeking a merit or financial aid scholarship should contact the school directly for more information.
For a list of Joffrey Ballet school audition tour locations, visit www.joffreyballetschool.com/audition-dates-and-locations.
José Manuel Carreño, Ballet San Jose’s new artistic director, has been living in California since taking the reins of BSJ but still thinks of himself as a New Yorker after spending 18 years there dancing with American Ballet Theatre.
The San Francisco Classical Voice explained that Carreño is the first official artistic director since Dennis Nahat was fired from BSJ and ABT’s organization was brought in, largely with funds donated by electronics store tycoon John Fry, under the temporary artistic advisorship of Wes Chapman, a former ABT principal dancer.
After a globe-girdling career of guest engagements and running his own summer training program in Sarasota, Florida, Carreño is planning to stick close to San Jose this year, “about 200 percent of the time” he joked, to get the company going in the direction he wants.
That roadmap could prove quite interesting. Carreño described Ballet San Jose as an ABT farm team, utilizing its training, its teachers, and some of its repertory. He’s also enthusiastic about BSJ’s value as a regional ballet troupe that can do audience-building by reaching out to the Latino community as well as to the techies of Silicon Valley. He wants to develop local Hispanic talent by expanding the Ballet San Jose School and its outreach programs, and by finding a permanent headquarters for the troupe as well as dormitory space for the school, which would also grow it as a revenue stream.
Ballet San Jose can hold its own as an alternative to San Francisco Ballet, Carreño said, just as ABT and the New York City Ballet at times share audiences and at other times compete for them. He doesn’t want BSJ to become a Balanchine-based company, since SFB already is, nor does he want to develop a specialized repertory. He wants the dancers to be versatile, to be able to execute the wide spectrum of choreographies that are out there or coming down the pike.
And he wants the company to travel, to Los Angeles and Orange County and even to San Francisco. And to New York; it would help grow the BSJ brand as well as season the dancers, he said. If he can’t afford to take the whole company at first, he’ll take some of it.
To read the full article, visit https://www.sfcv.org/article/jose-manuel-carreno-lands-at-ballet-san-jose.
Ballet students and teachers can view the library of Finis Jhung instructional videos for $9 a month when purchasing a full year of streaming services in advance. (Streaming is also available through a monthly or quarterly subscription).
Almost 30 titles are available for streaming; including favorite Jhung DVD titles such as The Art of Pointework, The Ten-Minute Stretch Break, The Boy Ballet Dancer, Use Your Arms & Dance, The Art of Teaching Turns, as well as lessons that illustrate several levels of barre work, center work, jumps, turns, turnout, and extension.
Since 1972, Jhung has been a mainstay of the New York dance scene. He has taught dancers of New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey, Ailey, Taylor, Graham, and Cunningham companies, as well as star gypsies from Broadway, aspiring professionals, and amateur adult beginners.
For more information, visit http://finisjhung.com/Streaming/.
Budding dancers can enjoy a special day all about ballet at the Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress Street, Boston, on November 11, from 10am to 5pm, reported Boston.com.
Visitors can listen to the music of the Boston Ballet Orchestra quintet, or try a dance class with Boston Ballet School teachers. Throughout the day, kids—and their caregivers—can participate in a number of activities in all areas of the museum, including hearing The Nutcracker story and creating a crown, designing their own creations, visiting the Pointe Shoe Petting Zoo, and seeing sketches and samples of fabric used in the Boston Ballet’s new version of The Nutcracker.
Kids can also meet Nutcracker characters and pose for photos in front of a replica backdrop, discover how high they can jump, and try out a real nutcracker. All ages $14; under 1 and members free. For more information, visit www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org.
To see the original story, visit http://boston.com/community/moms/blogs/parent_buzz/2013/11/ballet_day_boston_nov_11.html
By David Arce
During performances the audience looks at the dancers’ faces first, and then moves on to the choreography and technique. To encourage students to explore facial expressiveness without feeling embarrassed, try this between barre exercises: have them close their eyes and then call out expressions for them to try.
One major element that separates students from professional dancers is the quality of the connecting steps in choreography (such as walking and running), as well as non-choreographed stage movements such as bows. These must be done with confidence and are as important as the turns, jumps, and other technical steps; therefore they should be given equal attention in rehearsals.
What’s up in the dance community
This Follies Defied the Odds—and Gravity
It could have been “folly,” indeed. The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a Southern California troupe that produces lavish variety shows starring shapely showgirls and Rockettes-worthy dancers, opened in 1992 to doubts and derision. For beneath all those feathers and sequins was a cast that ranged in age from their mid-50s to mid-80s. “Who wants to pay to see old ladies’ legs?” one reporter was heard to say.
But age provided no obstacle to audiences, who showed up at the circa-1936 Plaza Theatre in droves; kept the show running five days a week, 11 months a year, for more than two decades; and contributed to a tourism boom that revitalized the sagging Palm Springs downtown. On November 1 the show will open its 23rd and final season with The Last Hurrah! Like all Follies shows, this revue pays tribute to the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s “golden age” of the stage, with burlesque-style comedy acts and Broadway-big production numbers.
“It has been an amazing, wonderful ride,” said Follies producer and co-founder Riff Markowitz, who, as master of ceremonies, hasn’t missed a single show. “It’s hard for me to believe that sometime during the coming season we will seat our three-millionth audience member.”
The curtain closes May 18, 2014. Visit psfollies.com for details.
Ticket to Ride: SF Trolley Dances
Public transportation is great for getting from here to there. Or, if you’re in San Francisco this October, you can get where you’re going and see great dance at the same time.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of San Francisco Trolley Dances, founded by Kim Epifano, artistic director of Epiphany Productions, a dance-theater company that produces large-scale, multidisciplinary, collaborative performances around the world.
Riders hop aboard at the Market Street Railway Museum and ride for as long or as little as they like through San Francisco’s famous Market Street area. At stops along the track, a variety of Bay Area dance companies use the picturesque streets, sidewalks, train stations, and other sites as three-dimensional performance spaces.
Riders must purchase a MUNI ticket ($2 general, 75 cents students and seniors); anyone who happens along on foot or bicycle can enjoy the dance for free. Trolley Dances tours will set out six times each day, October 19 and 20. Check it out at epiphanydance.org.
NYC Ponders Why Dance Matters
“My name is Sara Mearns,” says the New York City Ballet principal in a video clip. “I’m a New Yorker for dance because it allows dreams to come true for boys and girls from all around the world that make dance their communication and their expression. I’m a living example of that.”
Short, strong, to the point. This web campaign from the nonprofit service organization Dance/NYC features roughly 30-second snippets about why dance matters from artists, dancers, and fans such as Bolshoi and ABT star David Hallberg, innovative choreographer Elizabeth Streb, and Staten Island studio owner Luanne Sorrentino. Some talk about dance’s power or its ability to inspire; others why they love it. (“Legs,” says designer Isaac Mizrahi with a saucy smirk.)
Launched in June, new videos from famous faces will be added periodically. Why does dance matter to you? Share your thoughts @DanceNYC #newyorkersfordance.
Joffrey Seeks Choreographers of Diversity
Three promising young choreographers will win the opportunity of a lifetime through Joffrey Ballet’s fourth annual Choreographers of Color Award. The program seeks young artists with a “diverse perspective” who will create original works on Joffrey Academy of Dance trainees, then present the pieces at Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance on March 1, 2014.
Aside from encouraging young choreographic talent, the program provides a challenge for the Joffrey trainees. In a YouTube video, one of last year’s winners, William B. McClellan Jr., described his style as a fusion of jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, African, samba, capoeira—“a melting pot of forms”—and a way for the ballet students to “think about movement differently.”
Have a last-minute application? The deadline is September 2 at joffrey.org/cofc. Tickets to the March 1 choreography showcase go on sale in January.
Joan Myers Brown Wins National Medal of the Arts
Since 1960, when she opened the doors of her Philadelphia School of Dance Arts—thereby allowing previously excluded African American students the opportunity for formal training—Joan Myers Brown has been a force in dance and dance education. A dancer and choreographer, Brown founded The Philadelphia Dance Company in 1970 to provide professional opportunities for minority dancers. Dubbed Philadanco, the contemporary company became known as one of the finest in the land.
For her tireless efforts championing the cause of African Americans in dance in Philly and around the world, President Barack Obama recognized Brown with a National Medal of the Arts at the White House on July 10.
Canada’s international festival proves there are no borders, nationally or technologically, in ballet
By Joseph Carman
“Think globally, dance locally” might have served as the motto for the Assemblée Internationale 2013.
Canada’s National Ballet School held the first AI ballet festival in 2009; in this second edition—held April 28 to May 4 in Toronto, Canada—17 schools from various countries joined the NBS. One hundred ninety students gathered with faculty from each school to participate in daily ballet technique classes, rehearse and perform blended casts of student choreography, dance ballets representative of each school, and perform in a high-tech, collaboratively choreographed experimental work.
NBS artistic director Mavis Staines conceived the festival in 2009 as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NBS by giving back to the professional dance community and by offering an exploration of the range of dance experiences within the professional dance education community.
“Competitions have a very valid place in the panoply of the dance community dynamic, but I noticed that nowhere was there anything to celebrate artistic collaboration, or to promote the emerging generation of dancers in experiencing ballet as an international language,” says Staines. “Nothing is more bonding than the experience of taking a creative project from studio to stage. In that way boundaries fall, borders fall, and it really brings out the best in human nature.”
Nothing is more bonding than the experience of taking a creative project from studio to stage. In that way boundaries fall, borders fall, and it really brings out the best in human nature. —NBS artistic director Mavis Staines
Four years ago, NBS already had a summer student-exchange program in place with 20 international schools, to allow its own students to broaden their education by studying with other institutions. Building on that foundation, the AI hosted 12 schools in 2009.
This year, the 17 schools that joined with NBS were The Australian Ballet School, Codarts (Rotterdam), Dutch National Ballet Academy, L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec (Montréal), EESA/CPD de l’Institut del Teatre (Barcelona), Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, John Cranko School (Stuttgart), The Juilliard School (New York City), National Ballet School (Havana), New Zealand School of Dance, Palucca School (Dresden), Paris Opera Ballet School, The Royal Ballet School, Royal Danish Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, and The School of The Hamburg Ballet.
Staines wanted to expand the scope of the festival to reflect the accelerated global changes that have happened in the last four years. “I have worked closely with students of the school because I always want them to be part of the planning of concepts,” says Staines. “It was clear that increasing ballet’s accessibility and using technology in a more current and creative way were connected. I am convinced this is a sharing which should definitely remain a part of the ballet community.”
Staines also wanted to make sure AI13 was designed to allow time for the international assembly of artistic staffs and dancers to gather informally over coffee and exchange ideas about ballet’s future.
Each day of the festival, students took ballet class with teachers from other schools, alongside peers from various schools. Students from Barcelona, for example, could study with students from The Royal Ballet School in a class taught by a teacher from San Francisco. Each technique class accommodated up to 30 students. Daily, there were three women’s classes, three men’s classes, and two mixed classes. Each student got a chance to attend two men’s or women’s classes and at least one mixed class. Students rarely had class with the exact same group and never had the same teacher twice.
Corey John Snide, one of six male Juilliard students who attended the festival, says he discovered that dance is truly a universal language. “I took a ballet class one day with a ballet mistress from Cuba who knew no English and had a translator,” says Snide, who has performed the title role in Billy Elliot in London’s West End and in Australia. “The translator didn’t need to do much. We all knew what [the teacher] wanted from her body language.” (Many of the events were translated into French.)
In the afternoon, participants rehearsed for performances. Two programs titled “Traditionally Timeless” featured choreography from the existing repertoire of company schools, such as the Royal Danish Ballet School’s rendition of the pas de sept from August Bournonville’s A Folk Tale and The Royal Ballet School’s performance of Frederick Ashton’s pas de deux from Rhapsody.
For Snide, the contrasts of traditions were striking. Juilliard brought a piece titled Phases of Strobe, choreographed by Juilliard alumnus Julia Eichten. “I spend 50 seconds in the upstage left corner booty-popping in jazz shoes,” he says. “We followed Canada’s NBS in Giselle on the program.”
Two performances of “Choreography: Fast Forward” with the same casts included works by student choreographers from each school, performed by mixed casts of students from the various schools. The ballets had been taped in advance with dancers wearing different colored shirts or numbers. The DVDs were then sent to NBS artistic faculty member and choreographer Shaun Amyot, who cast each dance based on the international students’ abilities. Videos were then sent to the dancers of various schools to learn the choreography, which was rehearsed live in Toronto during the festival.
Funding for AI13 was culled from private donations to NBS, so that participants were not required to pay anything. “Sixty-five corporate and individual donors stepped up to make cash gifts or donate airplane reward miles,” says John Dalrymple, NBS’ associate director of annual giving. “We raised an additional $500,000 from new donors and existing supporters of the school to make it happen.”
The funding provided for six students and two faculty members from each school to attend; some schools opted to pay to send more students, staff, and VIP guests. (Forty-three international faculty members attended, although the number present at one time fluctuated throughout the week.) Aeroplan, Air Canada’s rewards program, donated 6 million of the 7 million reward miles needed to fly all of the participants to Toronto.
“Technology,” “collaboration,” and “accessibility” emerged as the buzzwords from the festival. Although the general public couldn’t attend the classes or hear workshop speakers in person (tickets were sold to the public for the four student performances), they could view rehearsals, classes, and performances via live-stream on the NBS website, which made them available through May 31, 2013.
“People of my generation are immigrants to the land of technology, whereas the students are natives of that land,” says Staines. The necessity of adapting to a constantly changing landscape has become evident, and AI13 embraced the challenge.
The prominence of technology was particularly evident in the festival’s collaborative dance project, Stream, which used a mixed international cast of students live and in virtual reality; it was choreographed by NBS’ Amyot and Amsterdam-based choreographer Michael Schumacher. “Mavis wanted to push forward into technology and social media,” says Amyot. “It had always been seen as a threat to ballet instead of something to enhance [the form] and bring in a bigger audience.”
In 2000, Amyot had participated in a friend’s dance project in Japan in which dancers in Frankfurt and New York were projected onto the stage in Tokyo via online streaming. Using state-of-the art expertise and technology, including projectors, hardware, and software donated by Ryerson University in Toronto, Amyot collaborated for AI13 with Schumacher, who was working in Amsterdam.
Amyot, who teaches the NBS Post-Secondary Program’s improvisation and contemporary repertoire classes, choreographed the classically based choreography on pointe, using some movement phrases contributed by students in the Post-Secondary Program. He studied the movement, dissected it, reassembled it, and then shaped it to the music, Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 5. While in Amsterdam, Schumacher had worked with 11 Dutch dancers on choreographed and improvised material, particularly a quartet section in the fourth section of the ballet.
Thirty students from the festival, including 14 NBS dancers and 16 from Juilliard, Palucca, Codarts, Royal Danish Ballet School, Barcelona, and New Zealand (who had learned the choreography via DVD beforehand), put the ballet together in three intense days in Toronto.
“It’s crazy to see how fast schools from all over the world can come together and act as one ensemble,” says Snide, who was in the cast.
For the performance, the dancers in Amsterdam were live-streamed (via a Mako box by Haivision with a time delay as low as 70 milliseconds) onto three screens, one on each side of the stage and one upstage center. “Depending on how we lit the stage, sometimes you could only see the projections, while at other times the screens were completely translucent,” says Amyot. “It was hard to tell who was in the space and who wasn’t.”
The dancers didn’t know quite what to expect before they got onstage for the dress rehearsal on the morning of the performance. “There were a lot of chances to improvise and feed off the dancers in Amsterdam,” says Snide. “We watched the screen as they improvised and tried to mimic, counter, or react to their movement. I’ve never heard of such a thing in the dance world before—dancers on two different continents making it all happen in one piece. It was a launch pad for something really incredible.”
At the end of the festival, all the dancers were presented with a “Creative Challenge,” originally envisioned by Staines. “We threw the gauntlet down to the students for the next 12 months to commit to creating a new dance work that would be performed in a public context outside of a proscenium theater,” says Dalrymple. Students will create work within their schools and are encouraged to collaborate with other artists, such as composers, musicians, designers, videographers, and computer animators.
“The idea was to get them thinking about how to make ballet more accessible and how as an artist you get your hands dirty in the creative process,” Dalrymple says. NBS has created online tools, like a video channel, to help them incubate their work. The task is to perform the collaborative piece somewhere in their community, where it will be recorded and shared in May 2014.
Choreographer Wayne McGregor was invited to speak about rethinking traditional uses of ballet. “Young artists are always trying to think about what the next generation of the dance world is going to do to further the art form,” says Snide. “After [McGregor] spoke, we broke into groups to discuss how this could happen. We discussed doing something in a staircase or putting classical ballet in a completely non-classical place like a factory, or using a traditional space in a non-traditional way. One friend said he wanted to see a dance where the audience was onstage and the dancers were in the audience.”
The festival activities raised questions and offered ideas for ballet’s future. “There’s that stereotype of ballet being fussy and that only elderly people like it that bugs every ballet student, whether you’re from Holland or Toronto,” says Dalrymple. “These young students love ballet and have dedicated their lives to it. They think there’s so much to the art form that people don’t understand. I think the big revelation was that the students realized they can’t look at us and say, ‘When are you guys going to change that?’ It’s largely up to them. While people like Wayne McGregor have many decades left in their careers, [these students are] the ones with the greatest opportunity to make ballet what it needs to be—more broadly accessible without losing or diminishing all the things that make this a compelling art form.”
Staines’ initial fears that some artistic faculty, especially from traditions 250 years old, would disdain the use of technology turned out to be unfounded. Staines says some faculty came to her hours after arriving at the festival to say they thought the technology could be used regularly to share classes for pedagogical purposes, somewhat comparable to video consultations in the medical world. For example, if Elisabeth Platel of the Paris Opera Ballet School were giving class at a particular time, teachers could watch and learn from it or even broadcast it for their students.
The discussion about the next festival, which could happen in 2016 or 2017, included the possibility of other schools hosting the festival. Some students loved the process so much they want it to occur annually, although that would be difficult to sustain financially. And Staines and Dalrymple both expressed a desire to include schools from Asia, South America, and Africa. (A school in Beijing had been scheduled to attend but canceled due to a change in the school’s leadership and a conflict.)
Moving ballet deeply into the 21st century means utilizing creative thinking.
“Increasing accessibility through the media as a starting point for people 30 and under means we’re going to see ballet as an integral part of society,” says Staines. “That’s going to be tremendously beneficial for audience development and funding and for drawing youth to have [dance] in their lives recreationally or to consider as a profession. I think the creative challenge concept is going to be something that links artists globally and pushes people to take ballet outside of traditional spaces more and more.”
For anyone who loves ballet and frets about its future, Staines has a reply: “We can use the themes of accessibility, relevance, and using technology to highlight ballet as something which is as powerful today as it was 100 years ago.”
How to give your students freedom and finesse
By Mme Peff Modelski
Training your students to extend and project energy through their entire bodies—eyes, heart, hands, and toes—will enable them to dance freely and confidently. And developing strong, flexible feet is a part of the strong technical foundation that will allow dancers to dance at their fullest capacity.
There are three ways to think about training the feet: learning the skeletal structure, stretching the muscles, and perfecting the timing of the whole body in relation to the feet.
Pointing the feet, jumping, running across a stage, turning, and balancing should be easy and beautiful, but achieving this ease and beauty requires careful training. Some “exercises” should never be done. It is not necessary to press on pointed feet to make them arch more, nor is the use of foot stretchers effective or healthy. It is the feeling of pointing, which you teach, that enables students to develop beautiful feet as they grow.
Strength and expressiveness
The foot is designed to support the body, transfer weight, and provide the basis for balance in movement and stability. Consider this—the foot has 26 bones (not counting the tiny sesamoid bone below the big toe), some of which are among the smallest in the entire skeletal structure. This structure, and the way the muscles, ligaments, and tendons move even when all those bones are bearing the weight of the entire body, helps make the foot one of the body’s most expressive instruments.
The ankle flexes and points. The foot everts, inverts, and makes circles. The toes flex, lengthen, and curl. In ballet, the curled position is only contracted, not useful. The skeletal design of the foot creates the toes’ and heel’s ability to push the foot—and the rest of the body—in different directions. Thus, the foot (including the attached ankle) is a perfectly designed structure for both balance and movement.
Optimal foot strength
What do we expect our feet to be able to do, and how strong do they need to be? We need them to help us stand, walk, run, and climb. Dancers need feet that are also capable of jumping repeatedly, relevéing repeatedly, and staying on three-quarter pointe (which is the highest position in ballet shoes before pointe work, on the bottom of the toes with the ankle fully extended) or pointe as long as they choose.
How can you tell how strong your students’ feet are? Here is a checklist to help you assess their strengths and weaknesses.
• Can they stand and stay quietly balanced on the soles of both feet and on one, first with their weight evenly distributed between the heel and all five toes, and then in relevé?
• Can they step onto a steady, balanced piqué relevé on either three-quarter or full pointe?
• Can they relevé on two feet without wobbling on the way up and down and stay balanced, keeping the knees straight and the heels aligned with the anklebones?
• Can they land from any jump with minimal sound? A landing with any noticeable sound is impact; one with quiet sound is contact and reveals the strength of the dancer’s use of the toes, all of the foot, and finally the heel.
• When they demi-plié or relevé, do the tips of the toes stay on the floor the entire time?
• When they tendu, does the ankle open easily, allowing a fully extended feeling in the front and no sense of tightening in the back? Is the pathway of the toes a sliding one, all the way to tendu and returning to fifth, with no tapping in between?
There are ways to develop elegantly extended arches that are flexible and beautiful within the art form’s requirements. Equally important is helping students develop feet that are strong enough to get them through their dance careers and last a lifetime.
There are three ways to think about training the feet: learning the skeletal structure, stretching the muscles, and perfecting the timing of the whole body in relation to the feet.
One basic alignment exercise can be employed as soon as training begins; this will aid in warming up as well as helping speed recovery from overwork or injury.
Dancers should sit or lie on the floor or sit in a chair, and place their feet flat against the wall with bent knees. Since the feet are not bearing any weight, this is a safe position in which to strengthen and stretch the muscles and ligaments of the feet and ankles.
Have dancers line up the third toe of each foot with the inside of each hip bone, then press the feet into the wall. Each time they do this they should feel even pressure under each toe, the ball of the foot, and the middle of the bottom of the heel. Have them do this until they feel that the balance of pressure remains continuously even.
Next, have them raise the heels from the wall so that only the toes are bent at the joints and then return to feeling the whole bottom of the foot flat against the wall.
Mobility and strength
All the muscles of the leg, ankles, feet, and toes need to be stretched and lengthened in order to be resilient and flexible.
In addition to the simple alignment exercise given above, offer your students this set of exercises designed to help them gain mobility and strength. No shoes should be worn for these exercises.
• Place a Thera-Band around the center of the metatarsals for resistance while flexing, pointing, and circling the foot.
The following three exercises reestablish the brain’s pattern of sensing the entire foot.
• Sit on the floor, open the bent knees to the side in a butterfly position, and put the foot on its side in front of you. Take hold of the big toe at the middle joint and line it up with the first metatarsal. Gently and slowly pull the big toe away from the foot, holding it there for two breath cycles, and then, more slowly, let it retract back to its original position. Do the same with each toe—for the fourth and fifth toes, you may have to put your foot in your lap.
• Place the outside of one foot on the floor. Pull on each toe to extend it; then, keeping it in line with the metatarsals, turn it a little to one direction then to the other. Remember, it is very important to do the movement of returning as slowly and carefully as the initial movement.
• Put one finger of the opposite hand between the big toe and second toe. Curl the toes, squeezing the finger; then flex the toes, squeezing the finger again. Return to the original position, slowly unsqueeze, take the finger out, and let the foot rest. Repeat with each toe.
Get up and walk around to notice the difference in the sensation of the foot.
• Sit down and take the big toe in one hand and the rest of the toes in the other. Slowly and gently separate them sideways and then push them together. Repeat with all the other toes.
• Stretch the leg out straight in front and concentrate on slowly spreading the toes apart. They will look like a fan. Afterward, walk around to sense how well you can feel the foot and the toes.
• In a seated kneeling position with feet flat and all toenails touching the floor, rise to the knees without shins rising off the floor—contact should be from knee to toenails.
• Stand and jeté from one side to the other, observing how secure the landing foot feels.
• Stand with feet parallel, ankles and knees touching. Keeping the feet touching, slowly relevé to three-quarter pointe and lower without tapping the tips of the toes (rocking back on the heels) or allowing the ankles to wobble sideways.
• Stand in first position, heels touching regardless of the structure of the legs (self-correcting for hyperextension). Relevé and lower without wobbling, pressing the floor with the toes so they do not bunch.
Feet are beautiful, perfectly designed for dancing. It takes time, patience, knowledge, and a commitment to stretching and strengthening to shape reliable, strong, flexible feet. Give your students the tools they need to develop the instruments that will take them through a lifetime of happy, healthy walking, running, and dancing.
Cuba takes special measures to hold on to one of its most precious cultural resources: ballet dancers. To discourage defections, The New York Times said, authorities sometimes keep talented performers from touring or warn younger artists that finding a ballet job will be tough in an unappreciative capitalist world.
But that did not discourage seven members of the premier company, the National Ballet of Cuba, who arrived in the United States this spring. And in a remarkable success story, all of them have landed positions, including the all-too-perfect case of Arianni Martin: this month, she has been dancing the title role in Prokofiev’s Cinderella with Ballet Arizona.
Barely six months ago, Ms. Martin, 21, and six other dancers, including her boyfriend, Randy Crespo, defected from the National Ballet while it was on tour in Mexico. The group arrived in Miami in April with no jobs, no money, and no real knowledge of American life or command of colloquial English.
To discourage defections, which have plagued the National Ballet since the 1960s and have accelerated in recent years, the company’s directors have circulated horror stories of dancers who fail abroad and end up working as waiters. But after an impressive audition, Edward González was quickly invited to join the Sarasota Ballet in Florida, and the speed with which he was signed, the others said, negated any doubts that may have been planted in their heads by Cuban government propaganda.
Annie Ruiz Díaz and Luis Victor Santana, a couple, eventually signed on with the San Juan Ballet; Alejandro Méndez ended up in Phoenix; and Josué Justiz is now with the development company of the Washington Ballet.
“The hardest thing was the realization that there’s no turning back, that you’ve created this rupture in your life,” Justiz, 21, said by phone. “But my thinking was that I need to grow on my own, to learn to be independent and self-sufficient. There’s not just one way to dance or move your body, there are millions, and now I can learn them.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/arts/dance/defectors-from-cubas-national-ballet-land-on-their-feet.html?ref=dance.
Justin Allen, Stefanie Batten Bland, and Norbert De La Cruz III are the winners of the Joffrey Academy of Dance’s third annual Choreographers of Color Award.
The Choreographers of Color Award was created by the Joffrey Academy, the official school of the Joffrey Ballet, to recognize promising young minority choreographers whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the field of dance. Each of the three selected choreographers will set a new work on the Joffrey Academy trainees, receive a $2,500 stipend, and have the opportunity to work with Joffrey Academy artistic directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.
The three world premieres will be presented in Winning Works: Choreographers of Color Awards 2014, March 1, 7pm, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago.
Stefanie Batten Bland, from New York, was recognized as a 2010-12 Baryshnikov Arts Center artist in residence, has danced for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and others, and created Company Stefanie Batten Bland in 2008 in France so that she might better investigate the human condition and its relationship within the natural world.
Justin Allen was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and was trained at the Baltimore School for the Arts, The Rock School for Dance Education, and the Miami City Ballet School, among others. In 2009, he joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland where he performed as a soloist, and in 2010 he became a full-time faculty member and a choreographer at The Rock School.
Norbert De La Cruz III was born in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, and raised in Los Angeles, California. Cruz graduated from The Juilliard School in 2010 with a BFA in dance, and has balanced a career as a professional dancer, photographer, and emerging choreographer.
Tickets will be available as of January 13, 2014 at www.harristheaterchicago.org.
Allen Fields was just having fun with his students when he slipped into a tutu and began dancing in Times Square on Halloween. The impromptu performance by the Minnesota Ballet’s former artistic director attracted hundreds of bystanders—and the eye of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, whose image from the scene has popped up on websites from around the world, reported the Duluth News Tribune.
“It’s just amazing,” said Fields, who recently opened Allen Fields Classical Ballet & Training, a Rochester, Minnesota-based company that focuses on elite dancers. “The public was all around me.”
Fields was in New York City with his students for a trip that included viewing live performances and visiting with his mentors. Fields’ show in Times Square, in front of a reported 400 bystanders, lasted more than an hour and called for maneuvering by traffic police, according to Linda Pagnano, Fields’ program coordinator. “The people just loved him,” she said. “They took pictures and they were asking him to dance. It just spiraled into him providing good-hearted fun entertainment.”
Pagnano can also be seen in the image by Reuters’ photographer Adrees Latif, who won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2008 for a photo of an injured Japanese photographer, who later died, during a violent clash between troops and protesters in Myanmar.
Fields said the best part is being part of this photographer’s catalog. “It’s really the most important thing, as a person, is to have a picture that will go down in history by a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer,” he said. “I think that’s really cool.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/282636/.
A lot has happened during Houston Ballet’s 58 years. John Carrithers distilled hundreds of hours of film, including interviews, B-roll, and historical footage, into an upbeat, inspirational 85 minutes titled Houston Ballet: Breaking Boundaries, which premieres November 10 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The film marks the first feature-length documentary for Carrithers, who directed the film, and his wife Delicia Harvey, who produced it, reported Hispanic Business.
Houston Ballet commissioned Breaking Boundaries less than a year ago, and to meet the schedule, Carrithers spent many nights at the kitchen table, working with a drive and a laptop while the couple’s son was asleep. He thinks the 2011 death of Andrea Vodehnal, the company’s first ballerina, pushed some buttons. “People started to become aware that a lot of history was fading away,” he said.
Executive director James Nelson wanted to capture the institutional heritage before other major personalities were gone, such as artistic director emeritus Ben Stevenson, the charismatic British choreographer who built Houston Ballet from a corps of 16 dancers into a world-class company during a rich period of 25 years; 92-year-old Nina Popova, who established the professional company in 1968; James Clouser, interim director in 1975 and 1976, who introduced contemporary ideas; and Stanton Welch, who has guided the company since 2003. (Also featured is Tatiana Semenova, who founded the school in 1955 and died in 1996.)
Carrithers could have taken the documentary in any number of directions but follows a strong thread with Houston Ballet’s tradition of color-blind casting. That’s not the only boundary the company has broken, but it’s the strongest. “We feel really lucky this film has the story it does,” he said.
For more information on the premiere, visit https://www.mfah.org/films/houston-ballet-breaking-boundaries/. To read the full story, visit http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2013/11/2/director_does_a_dance_to_make.htm.
This year, Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) has the highest percentage of boys in its entry-level Grade 6 class in its history: 65 percent. Currently, there are 6 girls and 11 boys, reported a story in The Star.
The school also has the largest enrolment of boys in its 54-year history, with 59 boys in Grades 6 to 12, or 41 percent.
By comparison, when the Toronto school opened in 1959, all 27 full-time students were female; of the 202 after-school students, only nine were boys. Over the last 20 years, the percentage of full-time boys has fluctuated between 23 and 34 per cent.
There have been other spikes in male attendance in the past, most notably when Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov rose to international stardom in the 1970s, and after the 2000 film Billy Elliot and its 2011 stage adaptation in Toronto.
There are likely many reasons for the recent spike in interest among boys, says Laurel Toto, junior school manager. Toto, along with other experts, point to a greater social acceptance of boys in dance; the popularity of dance shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars; the so-called Billy Elliot effect; and the realization that ballet, with all its jumping and turning, is intensely athletic, which appeals to many young boys.
Often, says Toto, boys don’t initially seek out dance. Many become interested because a sister is taking dance lessons and they see how much fun it is. Typically, boys start out in other dance forms, such as tap or jazz, and only later discover ballet. Many will take up ballet because they want to participate in dance competitions, which require them to demonstrate various styles.
Popular TV shows and films are making all dance forms, including ballet, accessible to the general public, says Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, professor of dance at York University. “Boys, their parents, and their teachers are seeing more examples of young men in dance,” says Fisher-Stitt.
To see the full story, visit http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/11/01/boys_breaking_ballet_stereotypes.html
For countless visitors to Paris, no tour of the city’s sights is complete without a wander through the Montmartre Cemetery. Behind Ballet, the blog of the Australian Ballet, reports that there ballet fans can find the hapless Emma Livry, the young Romantic ballerina who died of burns after her costume brushed the opera’s gaslights; and legendary father-and-son duo Gaetan and Auguste Vestris, who brought ballet-mania to 18th-century London.
Vaslav Nijinsky, his grave adorned by a doleful bronze Petrushka, is a Johnny-come-lately by comparison. The ill-fated artist of the Ballets Russes died, in fact, not in Paris but in London in the spring of 1950. And there he might have remained had not the French been horrified by this mortal lapse in good taste. So three years after settling in at St Marylebone Cemetery, up Nijinsky came for his final journey to Montmartre. Paris, so the French insisted, had always been his spiritual home.
Around the world, ballet fans can also find:
• Russian exile Anna Pavlova, her urn still in Golders Green Crematorium in London despite her dying wish to return to her homeland.
• Marie Taglioni in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery, although many visitors mistakenly leave pointe shoes at the grave marked “Marie Taglioni” in Montmartre Cemetery, not realizing it is, in fact, the resting place of the famed ballerina’s mother.
• Isadora Duncan, reunited with her two small children, in Père Lachaise Cemetery. All three died tragically in freak accidents involving motor vehicles.
• Rudolf Nureyev’s tomb, in the Russian cemetery at Sainte-Geneviève-des-bois, near Paris, is among the world’s most sumptuous—formed in the shape an Oriental kilim rug like the ones the danseur collected for his residences.
To read the full story, visit http://www.behindballet.com/dancing-in-the-grave/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dancing-in-the-grave.
American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive National Audition Tour will kick off January 4 in Boston and Phoenix, and will visit a total of 25 cities through February 2.
Intermediate and advanced students, ages 9 to 24, are invited to audition for ABT’s New York, Collegiate, and satellite Summer Intensives, and Young Dancer Summer Workshop.
American Ballet Theatre’s 2014 Summer Intensive programs will be held in five locations: New York City (June 23—July 25); Winston-Salem, North Carolina (June 23—July 18); Tuscaloosa, Alabama (June 30—July 19); Austin, Texas (July 7—August 1); and Orange County, California (July 28—August 15). Each site will offer ABT training, including exposure to a wide variety of disciplines and ABT’s artists, history, and repertory, with an emphasis on classical ballet technique.
American Ballet Theatre’s Collegiate Summer Intensive will be held at ABT’s New York headquarters, June 2 to 20. This specialized program, designed for students ages 17 to 24, will focus on technique, ABT repertory, pointe work, partnering, modern dance, composition, and choreography. College credit options are available. Applicants may audition at any of the Summer Intensive audition sites or by video.
American Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop will take place at ABT’s New York studios, July 28 to August 8; with a young dancer program in San Jose, California, from June 16 to June 27. Both programs educate young dancers, ages 9 to 12, in ballet technique and related topics including nutrition, ballet terminology, classroom and rehearsal etiquette, and injury prevention.
For more information, visit http://www.abt.org/education/summerintensive.asp.
The Joffrey Ballet School will be celebrating its 60th year by featuring the largest cast ever for its annual holiday season Nutcracker—355 dancers, according to a JBS release.
Three casts will perform five performances of the holiday favorite December 13 to 15 at New York University’s Skirball Performing Arts Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, Washington Square, New York City.
Davis Robertson, a former principal dancer with Joffrey Ballet and current artistic director of Joffrey Ballet School’s Concert Group, has choreographed the school’s Nutcracker since 2009. “It’s a tribute to the talent and hard work of our students and faculty to be able to have so many dancers perform this year, with the youngest dancer starting at age 2,” Robertson said.
A tradition started by founder Robert Joffrey 60 years ago, the Nutcracker has been an important part of the history of the Joffrey Ballet School. Of the dancers participating in this year’s program, 89 are from the school’s Children’s Program, 54 are enrolled in the Young Dancer Program, 7 are from the Fort Hamilton H.S. Joffrey Dance Academy; 145 are ballet trainees, 5 are jazz and contemporary trainees, and 30 are pre-professional dancers from the school’s Concert Group. For ticket information, visit www.nyuskirball.org.
Nikolai Tsiskaridze may have announced his retirement from the stage, but the former Bolshoi dancer hasn’t disappeared from the news, reports The Guardian.
Although the heat has barely cooled from Tsiskaridze’s disputes with the Bolshoi management and his name continues to be linked with the trial of Pavel Dmitrichenko, who was accused of the acid attack on ballet director Sergei Filin, he has just been appointed rector [principal] of the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg.
It’s hard to overstate the prestige of this position. The Vaganova Academy originated from the ballet school founded in 1738 by Empress Anna Ivanovna; today, thousands of children audition each year for entry. Most of its top students graduate into the Mariinsky company, and its training is considered a gold standard around the world. The Vaganova Academy is revered as the cradle of Russian classicism. Giving over its direction to the controversial Tsiskaridze, therefore, has caused a sharp intake of breath among many in the ballet world.
It’s not that the dancer has no pedagogical past. While he was performing with the Bolshoi, he voluntarily coached a handful of younger dancers, and has rightly taken pride in the achievements of one of them, Angelina Vorontsova, since she became a ballerina with the Mikhailovsky Theatre.
But that background hardly amounts to what the Russian minister of culture, Vladimir Medinsky describes as a “wealth of teaching experience,” and certainly not when it is compared to the years that Tsiskaridze’s predecessor, Vera Dorofeeva, has spent modernizing and expanding the Vaganova’s curriculum and forging links with other schools around the world.
Both Dorofeeva and Vaganova’s artistic director, Altynai Asylmuratova, have been removed from their jobs. Mariinsky ballerina Uliana Lopatkina has been named as new artistic director.
The Bolshoi will no doubt be delighted that the man who’s been a thorn in their side for so long will now be fully occupied in St. Petersburg. Whoever proves to be the winners in this story, chances are it won’t be Russian ballet. Once again the art form finds itself at the mercy of people’s agendas, batted around by forces that have little to do with its own health and future.
To see the full story, visit http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/oct/29/bolshoi-dancer-ikolai-siskaridze-vaganov-russian-ballet.
Revenge, death, sleep, and celebration are just some of the themes portrayed using mime in the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty. A video report from the BBC News discusses this vital theatrical technique and its importance to the world of classical ballet.
Mime has been an intrinsic part of classical ballet for centuries. It is used to spell out particular moments in the story, and this silent language was commonplace in early theater productions.
In the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production, Marion Tait is the wicked fairy Carabosse. She uses mime to convey her anger at not being invited to the christening of Princess Aurora, and vows that one day the Princess shall prick her finger and die. The Lilac Fairy, Delia Mathews, promises that Aurora shall not die but instead fall into a deep sleep.
The BBC spoke to Tait and Mathews during rehearsals at the Birmingham Hippodrome. “We have to keep miming. There is no way we can drop the mime. That’s where the story springs from—not from the dancing, but from the mime,” Tait says, who goes on to discuss the history of mime, how it has changed over time, and how to coach dancers in mime.
To see the BBC video report, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24508450.
For the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the Atlantic City Ballet of Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, is premiering an original dance based on the hurricane that devastated the Jersey Shore, reports Newsworks.
A 20-minute excerpt of In the Eye of the Storm will be staged tonight (October 29) at 7pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark as part of a program of performances related to Sandy. The full 45-minute work will premiere November 2 at Dante Hall Theater in Atlantic City. All performances are free to the public.
With a $27,000 grant from the New Jersey Recovery Fund, the Atlantic City Ballet created events over the summer for people to share their memories of the storm and its aftermath. Founding director Phyllis Papas and choreographer Kristaps Kikulis helped participants express their recollections through movement.
Many of the dancers were in New Jersey when the storm hit last year. They are residents of the Atlantic City Ballet, hailing from around the world to audition for the company and live in a communal house in Egg Harbor Township. While the house sustained only minor damage, the dancers were literally in the eye of the storm like so many others along the Shore.
“Some of the people on [Long Beach] Island were hit pretty bad,” said Papas. “A lot of people lost their homes. Our accountant lost her home. People really close to us. So, I think it is an effort to heal, and to say, we went through this together and, look, we’re out of it. We’re pulling together. Things are happening. Even art is coming out of it.”
For reservation tickets, visit http://acballet.org/news_detail.php?In-the-Eye-of-the-Storm-70. To see the original story, visit http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/61239-atlantic-city-ballet-interprets-commotion-of-sandy-in-new-dance?linktype=hp_topstory.
Jacques d’Amboise, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet for more than three decades, will share his knowledge of the George Balanchine ballet Who Cares? with NYCB principals Robert Fairchild, Tiler Peck, Sara Mearns, and Ana Sophia Scheller, when he coaches them in a filmed video session for the The George Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive.
The aim of the series is to document the insights of dancers who worked closely with Balanchine on some of his greatest ballets, preserve this knowledge, and pass it along to dancers, scholars, and historians.
The session will be held on November 18 at the New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York. Who Cares? premiered February 5, 1970, at the New York State Theater with Amboise in the leading male role.
The inspiration for the ballet came to Balanchine as he read through a Gershwin songbook given to him by the composer. “I played one and thought, ‘Beautiful. I’ll make a pas de deux,’ ” Balanchine recounted to Newsweek. “I played another, just as beautiful, I thought, ‘a variation.’ And then another and another, and there was no end to how beautiful they were.”
More information on the video archives can be found at http://www.balanchine.org/balanchine/03/gbfvideoarchives.html, including the Interpreters Archive: videos in which dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles to the dancers of today; and the Archive of Lost Choreography: videos which recreate Balanchine ballets that are rarely performed and in danger of disappearing.
Canada’s National Ballet School is in the midst of a 12-week dance program that is allowing researchers to study the physical and neuropsychological effects of dance on people with Parkinson’s disease.
The school is running the program in collaboration with Mark Morris Group’s Dance for PD; Sarah Robichaud, founder and creative director of Dancing with Parkinson’s; and researchers from York and Ryerson Universities.
PD is a neurological disorder that severely inhibits movement; it affects more than 100,000 Canadians and over 7 million persons worldwide. There is no cure, but dance has been found to temporarily alleviate some Parkinson’s symptoms, improve gait and balance, and offer psychosocial benefits. The neural mechanisms by which dance is able to facilitate these benefits have not been researched until now.
Program volunteers will undergo a series of brain imaging scans to help researchers understand how dance affects changes in brain network activity and structure. While being scanned, participants will be asked to listen to music they have danced to during their classes and visualize themselves dancing. Preliminary data gathered by examining professional ballet dancers and non-clinical populations has already shown that after learning a dance, changes in brain activity are detected in primary auditory cortex and in supplementary motor cortex, when visualizing a dance while listening to its music.
For more information about Dancing with Parkinson’s at Canada’s National Ballet School, visit www.nbs-enb.ca.
Russian dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko denied any guilt as he went on trial on Tuesday over an acid attack that nearly blinded the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, according to a Reuters story in Euronews.
Dmitrichenko, 29, was led into a Moscow courtroom in handcuffs to face trial for the assault last winter that exposed bitter rivalries behind the scenes at one of Russia’s great cultural institutions.
He and two alleged accomplices face up to 12 years in prison if they are convicted of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm in the attack on Sergei Filin on January 17.
“I do not admit that I am guilty,” Dmitrichenko, who had dark rings under his eyes, told journalists after officers led him and two co-defendants into a metal courtroom cage. He looked at his parents and gave them a brief smile.
Dmitrichenko shook his head at other questions from reporters and said he would have his say in court. But the trial was adjourned until October 29 because of the absence of a lawyer for one of the other two defendants.
At a hearing in March, Dmitrichenko said he had wanted Filin to be roughed up but had been shocked to learn that acid was used. Dmitrichenko said he had told Yuri Zarutsky, the alleged attacker, about alleged corruption at the Bolshoi, and accused Filin of playing favorites in the distribution of financial grants.
The scandal over the attack has damaged the theater’s reputation and that of its management and stars. To see the full story, visit http://www.euronews.com/newswires/2172236-bolshoi-ballet-dancer-to-stand-trial-over-acid-attack/.
For the past few weeks, Ballet West has made a home in a new studio space in Trolley Square, a downtown Salt Lake City mall of shops, services, and eateries, located in converted trolley carbarns and adjoining buildings.
Chris Matthews, Trolley Square owner, told Salt Lake Magazine, “We have renovated former movie theaters into first-class studios for Ballet West performers. Our investment to rebuild this space will encourage a sense of community that we have always strived for.”
Ballet West dancers will be using Trolley Square’s studio as a temporary rehearsal space until construction on the Jessie Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre—a new permanent home for the ballet—is completed sometime this month. Ballet West Academy will stick around, as the school plans to utilize studios at Trolley Square permanently.
“Not only does Ballet West bring 200 students a day to Trolley Square, but it brings those students’ moms and dads,” Matthews says. “This helps Trolley Square gain more support for its local stores.”
The mall will also soon feature a seasonal ballet store, and soon there will be Nutcracker-themed decorations to promote Ballet West’s upcoming performance. Matthews also hopes to have some of the dancers perform this holiday season at Trolley Square.
To see the original story, visit http://saltlakemagazine.com/blog/2013/10/21/an-artful-addition-to-trolley-square/. For more information on Ballet West’s new home, visit http://www.balletwest.org/NewHome.
For Verb Ballet’s 2013–14 season, FUSE! is the word.
Verb Ballets, a northeast Ohio company that strives to ignite audience passion and participation in contemporary dance, will be showcasing its ability to fuse dance, theater, and music, when it presents an original full-length rock ballet, The Masque: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, this fall.
Broadway World reports that the world premiere of The Masque is set for November 8 at 8pm at The Breen Center for the Performing Arts, 2008 West 30th Street, Cleveland.
The Masque was created in collaboration with Shadowbox Live, a Columbus, Ohio-based resident theater company that produces more than 400 shows each year spanning the artistic spectrum from sketch comedy, rock ‘n roll, and original rock operas, to traditional musicals, drama, dance theater, and new media.
The Masque’s original score of percussive, driving rock was written by the musicians of the Shadowbox band Light and is intertwined with melodies from Beethoven, Schoenberg, and early 20th-century “maverick” American composers Carl Ruggles and Charles Ives. The ballet, choreographed by associate director Richard Dickinson and dancers of Verb Ballets, tells the tale of Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” and others in full punk regalia.
For more information, visit www.verbballets.org. To see the original story, visit http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/Rock-Ballet-THE-MASQUE-THE-STORIES-OF-EDGAR-ALLEN-POE-to-Play-Breen-Center-118-20131018.
The ever-versatile Carolina Ballet Theatre will attempt something entirely new this weekend during Arabian Nights: Sinbad’s Adventures. GreenvilleOnline.com reported that the ballet company’s dancers will don tap shoes for one number in the first act of the new, family-friendly ballet.
Traditional ballet dominates most of Arabian Nights, but the tap number is a first-time endeavor, inspired by CBT’s artistic director Hernan Justo’s love of Gene Kelly. “It’s a massive Hollywood-style tap number,” Justo said. “It’s really cool. It starts with one dancer, then two and three, and finishes with 25 people tapping at the same time.”
The ballet is set to a jazz arrangement of music by 19th-century Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and features CBT’s 14 professional dancers and more than two dozen dancers from the CBT School. Francesca Genovese, CBT resident choreographer, choreographed the tap segment. Justo choreographed the ballet dances.
Arabian Nights: Sinbad’s Adventures will be presented in four performances October 25 to 27 at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre, 300 South Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina. Tickets are $35 for adults; or $25 for seniors, students, and children. For more information, visit www.peacecenter.org or www.carolinaballet.org.
To see the original story, visit http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20131020/ENT/310200019/Ballet-tap?nclick_check=1.
Mikhail Baryshnikov has joined a growing chorus of celebrities, athletes, and other public figures in denouncing Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, reports the Huffington Post.
The Russian dance legend and actor (Sex and the City) sounded off on the controversial legislation in an exclusive statement for the No More Fear Foundation, an international advocacy organization which is dedicated to helping members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community who face persecution in their home countries seek asylum in the U.S.
“My life has been immensely enriched by gay mentors, colleagues, and friends and any discrimination and persecution of gay people is unacceptable,” Baryshnikov, 65, said. “Equal treatment of people is a basic right, and it is sad that we still have to even speak about this in [the] 21st century.”
He went on to praise the No More Fear Foundation for “stepping in so quickly to provide the much necessary assistance” to the LGBT community. (Baryshnikov’s full statement can be seen at http://www.nomorefearfoundation.org/statement-mikhail-baryshnikov/.)
Baryshnikov, who was born in Latvia to Russian parents and was a principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet in what is now St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), follows in the footsteps of Elton John, Cher, Madonna, and Lady Gaga in his pro-gay proclamation toward Russia.
To see the original story, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/mikhail-baryshnikov-russia-gay-law-_n_4100754.html